Chapter 149 - Wine Tasting

“Oh… what?” Cate breathed. Her voice still held a slight quiver, matching the fluttery feeling in her stomach. Jon’s kiss had left her breathless.

Jon chuckled throatily, a whiskeyed rumble. Without answering he slowly turned Cate around, backing her away from the sink and toward the middle of the kitchen, kissing her as he guided her movement. She let out a soft gasp of surprise when her buttocks bumped against the edge of the kitchen island.

“I think we’re fine right here…” Jon observed silkily, a smirk curling the corners of his mouth. His hands slipped down over her hips, to the backs of her thighs, as his lips brushed her cheek. In a swift, powerful motion Jon lifted Cate from her feet and sat her on the edge of the island. She squeaked at the shock of the cold granite countertop under her bare behind.

Jon chortled sexily, stepping up between Cate’s thighs and leaning against the counter’s edge. He could feel the chill of the stone against his erection, through the worn denim of his Levis. But it was no match for the heat of his arousal. He grinned at her. “Who needs a bed?”

Cate ruffled her fingers through the back of Jon’s hair, enchanted by the sparkle in his indigo eyes. “I guess we don’t…” she whispered in agreement.

“Not right now, anyway.” Jon leaned into Cate, his lips capturing hers. He kissed her with rising passion, pushing forward eagerly and causing her to brace her hands behind her on the counter as she leaned backward.

Cate gasped out a little chuckle as their mouths parted. “Wow… somebody’s a little excited,” she teased breathlessly. Her nervousness was slowly being overcome by her increasing libido, the heated flush of imminent sex focusing her attention on the stunningly beautiful man before her.

“Maybe,” Jon purred coyly. He pulled his face back from hers just enough to give her a little wink. Bracing his hands against the countertop on either side of Cate’s hips, Jon suddenly made a swift, catlike leap onto the counter, nudging his knee between her thighs and leaning forward over her with a naughty smirk.

Cate slithered backward to make room for him, until she found herself reclining in the middle of the big rectangular island. Again Jon’s lips found hers as he crawled forward over Cate, his torso sliding against her chest and pressing her to lay back on the countertop.

Cate could only whimper and slide her arms around Jon’s sides as he settled on top of her, careful to support himself on his forearms so as not to crush her. Heat was practically pulsing off of his body, warming the cool granite and fueling Cate’s desire.

Her fingers raked gently down Jon’s bare back to the waist of his jeans before following the denim band around his sides. She inched her fingers along his heated skin until her movement was blocked by her own flesh, pressed firmly under his as he lay on top of her. “Jon…” she whispered against his lips, nudging his waist with her hands, prompting him to move so she could reach his fly.

“What’s the hurry, Baby?” Jon murmured with a smirk as he slipped his lips along her cheek to trace the line of her jaw. “You got somewhere else to be?”

“No….” Cate breathed. God knows she didn’t want to be anywhere else but right here, right now, with this intoxicating man on top of her.

Jon chuckled, shifting his weight to his left hip and arm so that he lay beside her. He curled his right leg over hers, the soft denim of his jeans whispering against her skin as his groin pressed to her hip.

Continuing to nibble and kiss his way down the side of Cate’s neck, his right hand slipped to the top of her thigh. With smooth fingertips he traced a lazy circle on her warm flesh before trailing his touch upward, inching up the jersey’s hem with the movement.

Cate moaned softly at the exquisite feel of Jon’s soft lips on her neck. She tipped her head back against the cold stone surface, her neck and back arching slightly with the movement. A blissful smile curled her lips as her eyes drifted closed. “Mmmmm….” she hummed.

The butterflies in her stomach were quieting, wilting under the fire that was simmering in her womb as Jon’s touch inched agonizingly upward. Her nipples ached, pebbled against the slick nylon of the jersey that blanketed them. Between the chill of the granite under her back and the heat of Jon’s lips descending to their plane, their points were so hard she was sure they could cut glass.

Jon rumbled a little chuckle deep in his chest in response to Cate’s breathy moan. She was beginning to relax, even as her body tensed with arousal. He gave a little self-satisfied smirk as he slipped his lips over the notch at the base of Cate’s throat, into the tanned vee of soft skin revealed by the neck of her jersey. He loved evoking that sexy, sultry sound from her. She was his favorite instrument to play.

“Jon…” Cate whispered on a sigh as his hand crept higher, sliding the jersey’s hem up to expose her navel and the flesh below. “Ohhh… Jonny…”

Jon grinned and raised his lips from her neck. He couldn’t resist a downward glance to see what he had uncovered. He let out his own little groan at the sight of his hand gliding over Cate’s flat stomach, his fingertips worrying the small silver ring at her navel before traveling over to trace the faded tattoo on the point of her hip. He felt his cock throb in response as his glance slid over the smooth stretch of private skin to the tiny strip of downy fur between her thighs. He reflexively pushed his crotch a little more firmly against her hip.

Reminding himself to take it easy, Jon dragged his gaze back upward to Cate’s face. She had opened her eyes and was watching him silently, her lips full and shiny and parted sexily as she panted silent shallow breaths. “You look good enough to eat,” he growled playfully.

“We are in the kitchen,” Cate replied breathlessly. Jon’s growly chuckle in response sent a charge straight to her core.

“That we are.” He shimmied slightly, sliding down Cate’s body until he could reach her abdomen with his lips. Cate sucked in her stomach at the tickle of his mouth brushing over her navel, then his tongue flicking at her piercing. “Mmmmm….” he hummed, raising his face to give her a grin. “Delicious.”

Cate responded with a little whimper, wanting desperately for Jon to resume his tasting, praying he would move his lips further down her abdomen to smother the wet fire between her legs. She almost cursed when instead he slid back to his original position, hip-to-hip with her on the island.

Reading her expression, Jon smirked. He was enjoying drawing out this tease. Cate had obviously forgotten all about her nervousness. “Want some wine?” he murmured in her ear, accenting his question with a nibble at her lobe.

“Yeah…” Cate gasped, her exasperation evident in the force of her breath. She pushed herself up onto her elbows, panting. “I’ll get it.”

“Baby, I can…” Jon stopped his sentence as Cate abruptly sat up and swung her legs over the side of the island. Her bare flesh made a little squeak against the granite, making him stifle a chuckle. He watched her hair swing in front of his gaze as she hopped down to the floor and stepped over to the counter, reaching for her wine glass. The bottom of her Soul jersey again drifted down to cover her shapely ass.

Jon grinned at her frustration as Cate took a gulp of her wine before pulling the bottle from the iced cooler. She tipped the bottle to empty the remainder of the golden liquid into her glass, then set the bottle on the counter. Shifting from his hip to his ass on the counter, Jon blew out his own long breath as he leaned back on his elbows.

Jon’s bare chest glistened with a light slick of sweat as his lower back curved to contact the cool granite beneath him. It felt good. Jon glanced down at his fly, half-surprised to see his cock still contained by the supple denim. He sure as hell felt like he was about to burst through the fabric.

Cate turned to face him, holding her glass. Her eyes also went immediately to his crotch, her pupils dilating slightly at the sight of the ample bulge beneath his zipper. A little smile curved her lips at the recognition of his desire. Her eyes flicked up to Jon’s face. “You want some wine too?” she purred softly.

“I could have some wine right now,” he grinned seductively.

Cate strolled toward him, swirling the Conundrum in her glass. “Me first,” she breathed. Jon’s eyes widened as Cate extended the hand holding her wine glass over his torso, then slowly dribbled a stream of golden nectar into his chest hair. Jon sucked in a sharp breath at the chilly liquid’s contact, then groaned as he felt it slide down his torso.

“Christ, Cate!” He gasped, then chortled. “You’re gonna get me all sticky.”

“Yeah, I am,” she agreed in a sultry purr. “But not with wine.” Withdrawing the glass, she lowered her head toward Jon’s chest, extending her tongue. Jon groaned and sank back onto the island, fully reclining and dropping his arms to his sides in surrender as Cate’s mouth contacted his flesh. He breathed heavily as she lapped and sucked at his skin, licking away the wine that mingled with the salty, musky taste of his sweat.

Cate tugged lightly at Jon’s chest hair with her teeth before nibbling her way down the ridge of his abdomen to his navel. After circling its rim with her tongue, she raised her face from his skin to take another sip from her glass. Then she lowered her lips to his stomach again, sucking hard at his navel and drilling into it with the tip of her tongue. She purred deep in her throat as she let her hand drop against his crotch, resting the foot of her wine glass squarely on his hard, denim-sheathed cock.

“Ahhhhhh…….” Jon groaned, raising his arms to run his hands through the front of his now-sweaty mop of hair. “Jesus, Cate….” He sighed as he felt her mouth move back upward, drifting to his right to suck at the ridges of his six-pack before trailing up the hard curve of his pec. He sucked in another sharp breath and reflexively jumped as her teeth scraped across his nipple.

“Mmmm….. this is a nice vintage on you,” Cate growled teasingly. Notes of peach, honey, musk, and sex.”

Jon chortled huskily at her assessment. “I bet it tastes just as good on you.”

“Probably. But you’re not gonna find out right now,” Cate murmured silkily, slipping her lips along his collarbone to his shoulder. With a gentle nip over a freckle she raised her face to smirk at him. “I’m not done with you yet.”

“Oh yeah?” Jon breathed. “Main course?”

“Maybe,” Cate purred coyly. Reaching to set her wine glass on the nearest counter, she stepped down to the end of the island. She settled between Jon’s knees as his legs hung down off the edge of the countertop. Placing a hand on each knee, she slowly slid her hands up over the soft denim toward his crotch.

Pressing firmly as her hands traveled up over his surging cock, Cate reached his waist. Her fingers curled as she worked the button through the hole then pushed down the zipper, tooth by tooth, savoring the ripping sound of his jeans opening.

Jon whimpered huskily at the brush of her fingers over the velvety steel of his shaft. Cate nudged aside the two halves of his fly, exposing his dick to the cool air. Her eyes met his and she naughtily licked her lips, causing his member to jump in response.

She dropped her head slightly, still watching his expression and smirking wickedly. Cate opened her mouth wide, her lips forming a shiny “O” hovering inches from Jon’s throbbing head.

“Yeah, Baby…. Jon rasped, struggling to keep his head up and his eyes open. He was about to burst with anticipation.

Cate smiled and took a step back, away from the counter and Jon’s thighs. “Patience, Baby,” she purred.

Chapter 148 - One Step Closer

“Stay with… with you?” Cate repeated in a small voice. “At your… house?”

“Yes,” Jon replied softly, hardly daring to breathe. He watched her closely, praying he wouldn’t see a flash of panic in her eyes. Cate was clearly stunned by his declaration, but she wasn’t freaking out… yet. She stared back at Jon, her lips parted and her eyes open wide. He could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she processed what he had said.

“Cate…” He broke the silence hesitantly. “Baby… I want you to stay with me in California.” He paused another second, then gave her a gentle smile. “You brought me to your home. Now I want you to be in mine.”

Cate blinked at Jon’s words, then parted her lips to speak. She hesitated again, then finally found her voice. “But Jon… I would be there for weeks… months. Not just for a weekend,” she protested weakly.

“So?” Jon moved one hand to cover hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Baby, you don’t want to stay in a hotel for weeks or months. Why not stay at a real house… a home. My home. You could relax, have peace and quiet. A sanctuary away from all the L.A. craziness.” His voice was soft and soothing, as if he was coaxing a frightened animal to eat from his hand. “We could come home to each other, Baby. Keep each other sane in that wacked-out world.”

Jon paused again, watching Cate’s face. Her lips trembled as she considered his words, then the corners of her mouth curved ever so slightly upward. Jon smiled and slipped his arms around Cate, again gathering her against his chest. “C’mon, Baby. I have way better beach access than anyplace else you could stay,” he teased gently. “And I know for a fact you look dynamite in a bikini.”

He chuckled softly. “Not that you’d have to wear one…” His blue eyes sparkled as he pulled his head back to give her an impish grin when she looked up at him. “In fact, clothes are optional on Bongiovi Beach. In fact, they’re optional in the whole damned house.”

Cate couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across her lips at Jon’s naughty tease. “Well…” she said reluctantly. She somehow felt she was imposing if she accepted his invitation, despite the fact that he had been the one to engineer this entire scheme in the first place.

“Please, Cate,” Jon said quietly, turning more serious. “I want to wake up with you every morning. I want to go to sleep holding you every night. I need you there with me.”

Cate looked into Jon’s sparkling blue eyes and felt herself falling once again. “Okay,” she agreed in a whisper. She just couldn’t deny him, though butterflies fluttered furiously against the walls of her stomach. She gazed at Jon for a moment, then dropped her head and shook it slowly, her cheek brushing his chest. A smile of wonderment touched her lips.

“What is it, Baby?” Jon asked, watching her.

“Damn. You sure know how to turn a girl’s world upside down, don’t you?” Cate lamented with a soft chuckle.

Jon responded with his own throaty laugh. “I guess I do. But I believe in the grand gesture. It has rarely failed me.”

“I bet not,” Cate smiled, raising her eyes back to his. “But Jon… please… just try to understand.” This is a big adjustment for me. I’m used to being alone. I may be a lousy roommate.”

Jon chuckled again. “That’s okay. Apparently I suck to live with too. Don’t worry; it’s a big house. We’ll have our own space. Though…” He leaned down until his lips hovered just centimeters from Cate’s. “I have a feeling I won’t want to be away from you at all.”

Cate felt a tingle wash over her entire body at the feel of Jon’s warm breath on her lips, just before his mouth found hers. She sighed as he kissed her sweetly, letting her body relax against his.

As the kiss gained heat Cate shifted in Jon’s embrace, turning on her hip and sliding her hands up his chest. She pulled her lips away from Jon’s for a moment to let out a soft purr of contentment before moving her lips to his ear. “I can’t believe it,” she whispered against his hair.

“What’s that, Baby?” Jon breathed in response.

“This. All of it. You. It’s….” Cate broke off, unable to find the words to express the overwhelming emotion she was feeling.

“It’s meant to be, Cate,” Jon interrupted gently. “It’s fate, Karma, predetermination, divine intervention… whatever you want to call it. But I believe you came into my life for a reason. And I’m damned sure not letting you go.”

Cate pulled her face back from Jon’s to give him a searching look, her eyes glittering. “Good,” she whispered before she touched her lips to Jon’s. She kissed the crooked little smile that curved the corner of his mouth, then slipped her lips along his jaw and down the side of his neck as her hands roamed up to splay over his hard pecs, between their bodies.

With a happy groan Jon tilted his head back, exposing his neck to Cate’s lips. His hands moved downward, gliding over her buttocks to her thighs, then sliding back up again over her smooth, warm, bare skin as he slipped the soft fabric of Cate’s jersey up to her hip.

“Ohhhhh……. Baby…..” Jon groaned as his hands cupped Cate’s ass, his strong fingers flexing against her tight glutes.

Cate purred in response and curled her fingers against Jon’s chest, raking them downward, catching the points of his nipples with her short nails. Jon gasped in surprise, the deliciousness of the sensation muted by the thin cotton of his tee. “Jon,” she asked silkily. “You don’t really want to watch a movie, do you?”

“Nuh-uh,” Jon answered, sucking in his stomach as Cate’s fingers trailed down his abs, tracing the ridges under his t-shirt. “Do you?”

“No,” Cate breathed, sliding her hands under the edge of Jon’s shirt and pushing it upward toward his pecs.

Jon responded by levering himself slightly forward and reaching behind his head. Grabbing the back of his collar, he dragged the t-shirt up and off his torso. A flick of his wrist sent it sailing over the coffee table.

Cate grinned at the quick, smooth movement. “Damn. You’re good at that,” she observed. “Almost like you’ve done it before?”

“Who, me?” Jon replied in a faux-innocent growl. “Nah….” He started to raise the jersey further up Cate’s back until she stopped him by abruptly sitting up between his legs on the couch. She couldn’t explain why, but she was suddenly very, very nervous.

“Ummm…. I need more wine,” she murmured in excuse, her heart pounding as she turned away from Jon.

Jon gave her a confused look. “Baby, I just brought you a refill.” He nodded toward the glass on the coffee table. He could read her discomfort in her expression. What the hell?

“Oh.” Cate looked at the table, her eyes settling on the plate holding the last crumbs of the grilled cheese sandwiches. “Uh… let me take this to the kitchen. I’ll be right back.” She leaned forward and snatched up the plate in one hand and her wine glass in the other, then swiftly dismounted the couch. She gulped in a mouthful of wine as she hurried toward the kitchen.

Jon watched her go, his lips parted in surprise. He didn’t know what had just happened. He didn’t think he had done anything wrong….

Jon turned on the couch to look over its back, through the pass-through into Cate’s kitchen. Her back was to him as she set the plate in the sink, then took another drink from her wine glass before setting it on the counter. Bracing her hands on the edge of the counter on either side of the sink, Cate lowered her head. Jon could see her back round slightly as she drew in a slow, deep breath.

She’s nervous, he realized. How could that be? After the intimacy they had shared over the past twelve days, how could Cate still think of him as some sort of idol or fantasy or larger-than-life being? She had as much as told him he was no longer that to her; he was just a man. Jon frowned as he tried to figure out what had suddenly given Cate a case of the nerves.

It only took a minute for the obvious answer to occur to him. So much had happened over the last few hours; Cate was finally beginning to think about how her life would change. It was a delayed reaction to the shock of the afternoon’s surprises. It had to be. With a little smile at his deduction Jon raised himself from the couch. He picked up his wine, then strolled into the kitchen.

Setting his glass on the counter beside Cate’s, Jon moved up behind her. “Hey,” he said gently, his voice a honeyed purr. His hands slipped around her waist. “You okay?”

Cate raised her head at his words. She drew in another deep breath and let it out slowly, then opened her eyes. “Yeah,” she responded after a moment’s hesitation. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Jon stepped closer to Cate, pulling her gently back against his chest. He smiled as he kissed her hair. “Wanna tell me?”

“I just… I…. I don’t know…” Cate tried to explain but couldn’t sum up why she suddenly felt so strangely anxious. The feel of Jon’s lips on hers, his hands on her body, his warm flesh against her skin… they were all wonderful. She wanted him, most definitely. She knew she could have him in an instant. But she was afraid to go further.

Jon dropped his chin to her shoulder, his arms tightening around her. “I sprung a lot on you today,” he murmured apologetically, his lips next to the delicate lobe of her ear.

Cate shook her head at his assumption. “It’s not that. It’s… you’re… you’re not supposed to be here.”

Jon’s eyebrows arched in surprise as he felt a little stab of pain in his heart. “Why not?” he asked softly, keeping his voice even. He moved his fingers lightly over her taut abdomen, gently stroking over the slick fabric of the jersey.

Cate grimaced at her words. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t want you here… ‘cause I do…” She broke off helplessly, sighing with exasperation at herself. She closed her eyes and sucked in another long breath, then blew it out while she counted to ten.

Jon scarcely breathed while he waited for Cate to continue. There was obviously some other emotional roadblock confronting her, another hurdle preventing her from relaxing with him tonight, from giving in to her desire. He shook his head slightly as he wondered what it could be. She had been so free, so uninhibited last night at the villa.

Suddenly it hit him. At the villa….

“You mean I’m not supposed to be here, in your home,” he said quietly. Shit. She may have brought him home, but she wasn’t really letting him in.

Cate nodded silently, dropping her head. She stood still for a moment, then turned to face Jon. He loosened his arms to allow her to turn inside their circle, but didn’t release his embrace. She raised her eyes to his and he saw that they were sparkling with moisture. Jon waited silently, searching her gaze.

“I’ve never done this before,” she whispered. “You’re the first.”

Jon smiled. “You mean you’re a virgin?” he teased gently. “Ummm, Baby… I don’t quite think so.”

He was rewarded with a nervous little smile and a soft chuckle from Cate, breaking the tension. “No, I don’t mean that…. I mean…” She took another deep breath. “You’re the first man I’ve brought here, to my home.” She gazed at him for a long moment, pleading with her eyes for him to understand.

“Since your divorce,” Jon finished softly for her.

“Since I moved here.” Cate corrected him in a whisper.

Jon’s heart swelled and his eyes moistened at her confession. He dropped his head forward until their foreheads touched, giving her a sweet smile. “It’s an honor,” he replied in his own gentle whisper. “Thank you.”

The hitch in Cate’s breath betrayed her emotion as a relieved smile curved her trembling lips. She tipped her face forward until her lips brushed over his, giving him a whisper of a kiss before pulling back to look at him. “I’m sorry. I feel so stupid,” she admitted, a slight blush tinting her cheeks. She cast her eyes downward, smiling sheepishly as she shook her head slowly.

“Hey.” Jon raised a hand to hook a finger under her chin, tipping her face back up to his. “It’s not stupid. It’s how you feel. I understand.” He gazed at her for a long moment, watching her beautiful eyes swirl sapphire and midnight. “We can take it slow,” he added, his voice dropping to a husky whisper.

Cate nodded again. “I do want you,” she admitted softly. “I’m just… well…” She took another deep breath and let it out on a soft sigh. She looked Jon in the eye, steeling her nerve. “I haven’t had a man in my bed before. Not this bed. Not here. Not in my new life.”

She could see from Jon’s smile that he understood. Cate let out a sigh of relief, her body relaxing with the release.

Jon slipped his hand to Cate’s cheek, tilting her face toward his. He captured her mouth again with gentle lips, giving her a long, slow, deep kiss. With a small whimper Cate responded, melting against Jon’s chest and sliding her arms around his waist.

A full minute later Jon broke the kiss. “So… we don’t start in the bed,” he murmured with a little smile.

Chapter 147 - Home

Jon's hand found Cate's as he grinned. Home. She was taking him to her home.

She was finally letting him in.

They made the remainder of the short drive in silence, holding hands, quiet in happy thoughts. When Cate guided the Mustang around the corner onto her street she felt her pulse kick up. She was suddenly inexplicably nervous. Oh, stop it, she chastised herself. You've spent the better part of the last three days in his arms and in his bed. Naked. Don't be all stupid about this.

Despite her mental attitude adjustment Cate’s heart pounded in her chest as she pulled the car into the garage. Turning the engine off she sat for a moment, hands on the wheel, staring straight ahead. She could feel Jon's eyes on her, his tender smile warming her soul. She drew in a deep breath.

"Baby, you okay?" Jon asked gently.

After only a second's hesitation Cate nodded, turning her gaze to him. She gave him a soft smile. "Yeah. I am." she decided out loud.

Jon gave Cate’s hand a little squeeze before releasing it and turning to push open the car door. He climbed out and waited for Cate to lead the way. With another little nervous sigh, Cate opened the door from the garage into the house and led him across the threshhold.

Then he was inside.

Cate stood silent, watching him, her pulse racing. Jon was in her home, in her private sanctuary. Since Kevin, Cate hadn’t allowed a man this deep into her life. She had never brought one of her lovers or her conquests home, never let one get this close. Until now.

A curious smile played over Jon's perfect lips as he looked around, taking it all in. Cate's little oceanside cottage was simple but cozy, decorated in muted colors of nature. The soft blues and greens and tans and golds were somehow feminine but bold, like Cate.

The dark brown leather couch and chairs were plain and broken in, worn by years of comfortable use. A rumpled indigo-blue throw was draped over the arm of a chair; a book lay open on a battered coffee table next to a dish containing sand and rocks and shells. An arrangement of black and white photos in mismatched, whitewashed frames hung in eclectic order on a rich caramel wall. Creamy, filmy sheer curtains stirred in the evening breeze over a bank of ocean-facing windows.

Jon saw Cate's touch in every corner, on every wall. This was very much her home.

He knew he belonged here.

Jon turned to Cate and saw her gazing breathlessly at him, her eyes glittering sapphire in the dim light of the sole lamp illuminating the room. Outside the shadows of dusk were long on the beach, the ocean shining in the new light of the risen moon. The same magic of moonlight was reflected in her eyes as she waited for his appraisal.

"It's perfect," Jon smiled, his voice quiet and melodious.

Cate let out the breath she didn't realize she had been holding as Jon's simple words touched her soul. Her lips trembled slightly as she gave a little smile in return. "Thank you," she whispered.

Jon took two steps forward and with gentle hands on her waist drew Cate to him. His eyes locked with hers for a long moment before he slowly lowered his head, letting their mouths drift together until finally they were joined. The kiss was simple and unhurried, the embodiment of the ease and contentment they felt.

They eventually parted and stood smiling at each other. Until Cate stifled a sudden yawn.

Jon chuckled, slidng his hands around to Cate’s back and rubbing gently. “Been one helluva day, hasn’t it?”

Cate nodded. “Yeah, it has. One HELL of a day.”

Jon leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on Cate’s forehead. “Tell ya what. You go jump in the shower. I’ll hang out here and wait. When you’re done we’ll just curl up on the couch and watch some TV.” He gave her a little grin. “You’ll be nice and refreshed and relaxed. And if the shower doesn’t help you unwind, well…” He pulled his hands away from Cate’s back, holding them up and wiggling his fingers. “I’ve been told I’m good with my hands.”

Cate let out a throaty chuckle, her gaze lingering on the curve of his sexy little crooked pinkie finger. “That you are,” she agreed, nodding. “Okay. Give me a few minutes, then it’s a date.” She could think of few things more appealing right now than snuggling into Jon’s arms and just letting him hold her.

“There’s beer in the fridge,” she added. “And whatever else you can scavenge.” She smiled at her next sentence, savoring the words. “Make yourself at home, Jon.”

Jon gave her a sweet little-boy grin. “I will, Baby.” He kissed her nose before giving her behind a swat. “Go. I wanna get to that couch with you.”

Cate laughed as she turned to head for the shower.

Jon watched Cate retreat into her bedroom and half-close the door behind her. He was tempted to follow her, but decided to give her some privacy. He instead wandered over to the living room, scanning the tables for the TV remote. He found it tucked neatly in a basket, then picked it up and punched buttons until the big plasma screen glowed to life.

Flipping through the channels, Jon finally settled on SportsCenter. He’d wait until Cate finished her shower, then let her choose a movie. They probably wouldn’t make it much past the opening credits anyway, before their need for each other took over.

Placing the remote back in its spot Jon meandered over to a cabinet he assumed contained Cate’s CD and DVD collection. Pulling open the door, he chuckled as he saw the “complete works of Jon Bon Jovi” on the top shelf. A quick perusal confirmed once again that Cate was his match; the cabinet was filled with discs of live music performances, documentaries, action movies, and cop shows. Only a few romantic comedy titles hinted at Cate’s softer side.

Pushing the cabinet closed with a smile, Jon turned toward the kitchen. Maybe Cate had a bottle of wine somewhere in there. He could definitely do with a glass.

Moving into the tidy kitchen Jon looked around, opening cabinets and scanning their contents. He found wine glasses and a corkscrew, which was a good sign. Jon rounded the island, searching for wine cubbies on its end. He didn’t find any, but his gaze was drawn to the two large dog dishes on a mat near the door to the garage. He did a double-take and broke into a grin as he saw the familiar name lettered on the dishes.

Jon continued his wine quest for another few minutes, until it finally dawned on him to look for a rack in the walk-in pantry at the far corner of the kitchen. Inside he found a small wine rack stocked with a baker’s dozen of bottles, an assortment of reds and whites. Evaluating the contents of Cate’s wine rack, he chuckled again when he found a bottle of his favorite Pinot Grigio. Judging from the dust on the bottle, it wasn’t a recent acquisition. He wondered if Cate had bought it because she knew he liked it, long before either of them had any idea their paths would cross.

Jon held the bottle for a moment, then replaced it in the rack. He instead pulled a bottle of Conundrum from its slot. It was Cate’s favorite.

Jon heard the shower running as he rounded the island to uncork the wine. His body reacted, a stab of lusty acknowledgement of the fact that Cate was naked in the next room. His dick urged him to go join her in the shower, poking at the denim of his jeans. Down Boy, Jon replied silently. We have all night. No hurry. We’re home now.

He smiled at the thought.

Realizing the Conundrum needed to be chilled, Jon thought for a moment before deciding against serving it “on the rocks.” Instead he looked around until he found a metal ice bucket and placed the open bottle inside it with a couple handfuls of ice cubes. Smirking at his domesticity, Jon moved to the fridge. Some cheese might be nice with the wine.

Jon rummaged around in the almost-empty refrigerator, moving aside bottles of beer and cartons of yogurt in search of fromage. Spying a stack of Kraft singles he snorted with laughter. That wasn’t quite what he had in mind. Noticing a half-loaf of bread on the bottom shelf, Jon grinned. He could make it work, though.


Cate stood unmoving under the warm spray, letting the water rain down on her back. She had pinned up her hair; it had been freshly-washed this morning. Besides, she didn’t want to take the time to dry it before returning to Jon in the other room.

She shook her head slowly in amazement at the radical change her life had undergone in the past few hours. She had gone from just barely holding in her devastation at Jon’s impending departure to elation, excitement, and nervousness at the prospect of the new chapter of her life that was about to begin. She had been sure she would spend this night curled miserably on her couch, tears falling into her wine glass as her shattered heart throbbed in her chest. Instead she was going to spend the night nestled in Jon’s embrace.

He was really here. He hadn’t left her, hadn’t left Georgia. And when he did leave, she was going with him. But most incredibly of all, tonight she was going to fall asleep in Jon’s strong arms, in her own bed.

Jon would be the first man to sleep in Cate’s bed. When she was finally free of Kevin she had burned their bed and bought a new one with the vow that she would never again allow herself to be tricked by lust. At the time she had thought she would sleep alone in that big bed forever. She was sure she would never find any man worthy of her attention there.

She was wrong. She had found a man more than worthy, through the most unlikely of circumstances. Somehow the object of her fantasies had become her very real soulmate. Jon had earned her trust and her invitation to her home and her bed. The thought made her smile.

This felt right.

Shaking herself from her contemplation, Cate reached for her shower puff. No more wasting time. Jon was waiting.

Cate quickly washed, toweled off, and brushed out her hair. Pausing for just a moment to smile at her reflection in the mirror, she padded into her bedroom and over to the chair in the corner, the one she always tossed her clothes onto when she shed them. Cate picked up the shiny Number Two Soul jersey and slipped it over her head.
Her nipples puckered as the soft nylon slid over them, both from the stimulation of the fabric’s brush and from Jon’s scent that was still faintly present on the garment.

With another smile Cate turned and headed for the kitchen. She had heard Jon banging around in there while she brushed out her hair. He was probably looking for a glass.

When she stepped into the open, airy kitchen Cate’s eyes widened in surprise. Two wine glasses sat on the counter next to an open bottle of Conundrum, chilling in her stainless steel ice bucket. Beside the glasses sat a plate stacked with grilled cheese sandwiches, cut artfully into small triangles.

Jon looked up from his station by the stove, where another sandwich sizzled in a small frying pan. He gave her a saucy grin. “Thought you might be hungry,” he said, a hint of smugness in his voice.

Cate let out a soft, musical laugh as her brain comprehended what her eyes were actually seeing. Jon Bon Jovi was cooking. In her kitchen. And from the looks of it, the boasts she had heard him make in countless interviews were true. He could make grilled cheese.

“I’m not that hungry,” Cate giggled, tipping her head toward the pile of sandwiches stacked on the plate.

Jon shrugged. “Yeah, maybe not. Guess I got a little overzealous.” He slid the frying pan from the burner and flipped the knob to turn off the gas. With a playful smirk he turned to Cate, picking up a sandwich triangle and offering it to her. “Here. Give it a try.”

Cate pulled back, wrinkling her nose suspiciously. “Am I gonna regret this?” she taunted.

Jon winked. “Maybe,” he teased back, raising the sandwich to Cate’s lips.

Cate took a dainty bite from the corner of the crisp triangle and chewed slowly before nodding. “Mmmm…. Not bad,” she appraised. She reached up to take the remainder of the sandwich portion from Jon’s hand. “Damn, all that hotness, and you cook too?”

Jon grinned. “Yep. Well, stuff with cheese and eggs, anyway.”

Cate laughed at that, leaning forward to give Jon a sweet kiss. “That’s good enough for me,” she murmured against his mouth. Careful to keep the gooey melted cheese of the sandwich in her hand from dripping into his hair, Cate slid her arms around Jon’s neck as he pulled her toward him.

Jon growled appreciatively as his hands slid down Cate’s sides to the hem of the jersey, which hung to her mid-thigh. “Damn... that shirt looks about a thousand times better on you than it ever did on me.” His fingertips traced along the warm skin of her smooth legs, itching to move higher.

“I’m not so sure I agree with that,” Cate chuckled in response.

“Matter of opinion,” Jon replied before ducking his head to nuzzle at her ear. Cate giggled at the tickle of Jon’s warm breath, letting herself melt into his embrace and tipping her head to the side to allow his lips to wander down the side of her neck to the curve of her shoulder.

“Want some wine?” Jon breathed against her skin, his whiskey purr sending her pulse racing.

“Yes,” she half-sighed, nodding slightly.

Jon chuckled and gave her shoulder a little nip before pulling away. Cate reluctantly slipped her arms from around his neck and stepped over to lean against the wall as Jon extracted the wine bottle from the bucket and poured two glasses. She nibbled at the sandwich that was still in her hand as she watched him.

Realizing she actually was hungry, Cate popped the last bite of toasted bread into her mouth and reached for another triangle from the plate on the island. She had hardly eaten today; her appetite had absented itself at the thought of Jon’s impending departure. Jon handed her a glass then touched his glass to hers. “To us,” he said softly.

Cate’s eyes sparkled at his tender smile. “To us,” she echoed, raising the wine to her lips and taking a sip.

Jon picked up the plate of grilled cheese sandwiches and grinned, tilting his head toward the living room. “C’mon. Couch potato time.” Cate laughed and turned to follow as Jon moved past her, headed for the sofa.

Fifteen minutes later three more grilled cheese sandwiches and two glasses of wine were gone. Cate and Jon sat side-by-side on her leather couch, Jon’s feet propped up on the coffee table and Cate’s legs folded under her as she snuggled into the crook of his shoulder. They were still watching SportsCenter at Cate’s insistence. Jon had chortled but not argued when she said she wanted to see the baseball game highlights.

“Want some more wine?” Jon asked when a commercial came on. He leaned forward to pick up his own empty glass off the coffee table.

“Please,” Cate answered, sitting upright to accommodate his movement. She sighed happily as Jon gave her a wink and a grin before heading into the kitchen. He returned minutes later with freshly-filled glasses.

With a little groan Jon lowered himself back onto the couch. Setting her wine glass on the coffee table and his on the end table, he shifted so that he was sitting in the corner of the sofa. “C’mere,” he said invitingly, opening his arms.

Cate moved over to accept his invitation with a smile. Jon shifted his legs, raising one onto the couch behind Cate so she could settle between his thighs as she leaned into his embrace. With a contented sigh Cate snuggled against Jon’s warm, hard chest, feeling the soft brush of his silvery-brown chest hair under her cheek.

Jon hugged Cate gently. “Wanna watch a movie now?” he asked.

“What time is it?” Cate replied. She let her eyes slip closed as she savored the warmth of Jon’s chest against her cheek.

“Almost eleven,” Jon answered. “It’s early.”

Cate chuckled. “Maybe for you. I’m usually in bed by now. Well, at least I was, before you came along.”

Jon smirked. “We could be in bed now. But we wouldn’t necessarily be sleeping.” He let his hand slide down to inch the hem of Cate’s jersey up her thigh, almost to her hip.

Cate chuckled throatily in response to Jon’s words and actions. “You’re determined to keep me awake until the wee hours, aren’t you, Rock Star?”

“Yes, I am,” Jon admitted in a seductive purr. “We can sleep in tomorrow, can’t we?”

GOD No!!!” Cate exclaimed, pushing up off his chest to give him an incredulous look. “Jon! Do you have any idea how much shit I have to do tomorrow?” I have to pack, I have to go to my office and pack up stuff there so Joe can use it, I have to make arrangements for my dog, I have to book a hotel, I have to…”

“Whoa, whoa, WHOA…” Jon cut Cate off, waving a hand at her protest. “Wait a minute… Cate, breathe.” Jon shook his head. Cate had gone from relaxed to agitated in about three seconds flat. “Baby, take it easy. We’ll get it all taken care of.”

“But Jon, you don’t understand…”

“Yes I do,” he argued gently. “I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last twenty years. I’m a professional gypsy.” He chuckled. “Listen, this is how it will go. One: You only have to pack enough clothes for a week or so. We’ll fly back in a couple weeks and get whatever else you need. I’m going to have to come back to set up the P.A. stuff anyway.”

Jon gave Cate a stern look as she opened her mouth to protest. She heeded his warning, remaining silent while he continued. “Two: Mandy will take care of your dog for a few weeks. We can take her back to California with us if you want, when we come back later. Three: I’ll help you pack up your office. It can’t take THAT long. And Four…” Jon smiled. “You don’t need a hotel. You’re staying with me, at the Malibu house.”

Jon felt Cate’s shock as she sucked in a breath and her body tensed. Shit… Jon grimaced slightly. Had he just said the wrong thing? He held his breath as he waited for her response.